Almost every lawsuit filed in Minnesota courts goes to mediation. There’s a simple reason for that: Courts know that in most cases, parties can come up with more creative solutions to their disputes than judges or juries can. Mediation helps parties see those options. The mediator’s training and experience help make that possible, but a lot also depends on how the parties approach mediation. Here are a few things to think about as you prepare for mediation.
1. Think About What You Want, And Keep an Open Mind
Mediation works best when all participants approach the process with openness and honesty. Remember that you both share at least one common goal—finding a solution to the disagreement. So go into mediation with an idea of what is at the root of the disagreement and what you think a solution might involve. But don’t get so locked into that possible solution that you can’t hear other ideas. Mediation offers you a chance to see the dispute more broadly, and then maybe to see new solutions that hadn’t occurred to you — but only if you’re willing to listen with an open mind.
While you don’t have to be friendly and upbeat with each other, you should strive to communicate civilly and respectfully. You may hear things that annoy you; the other side might be irritated by something you say. But that’s natural, and doesn’t need to be the end of the mediation. Take breaks if things get tense — before you lose your temper. Hostility or aggression begets more hostility and aggression, and pretty soon no one is listening to anyone.
2. Take Your Time
Mediation typically takes less time to resolve a dispute than other methods, such as litigation, but this doesn’t mean that you should rush through the process. If you move forward too quickly — either by throwing up your hands and giving up too soon or by taking the first offer just so you can be done –, you might not get a clear picture of what the other party wants, and the outcome may not address your needs sufficiently. Give the mediation process the time it needs, allowing you and the other party to explain your positions and negotiate a resolution that works for you both.
3. Recognize the Role of the Mediator
It’s easy to assume that the mediator acts similarly to a judge. However, mediators remain neutral throughout the process, and the outcome is not in their hands. Their role is to encourage communication and collaboration among the disputing parties, gently moving them towards an equitable outcome. Mediators usually don’t weigh in on who’s right or wrong; they aren’t really even all that interested in that question. Their job is to use questions and dialogue to get to the underlying interests of the parties, and help the parties figure out if there is a settlement that addresses both of their interests. Even when you think you’ve hit an impasse, the mediator may have strategies to help the parties work through the issue and continue their negotiations.
If you are interested in learning more about the benefits of mediation in Minneapolis or St. Paul, call the friendly team at Rubric Legal LLC today at (612) 465-0074.